Vinyl Me, What? Vinyl Me, Please!!
Good things come in 12 inch packages. Delivering limited edition pressings of new and classic albums directly to your doorstep, Vinyl Me, Please operates under a simple philosophy: The Album Lives. With a carefully curated catalog and lovingly assembled album art, the subscription service is more than just a record club … it’s a lifestyle choice for folks who wish Record Store Day could happen every month. And in their living room.
Here’s how it works. Simple – you supply Vinyl Me, Please with $23 a month and they supply you with one meticulously selected album worthy of your time and attention. Stupid easy, right? But wait, there’s more! Each custom pressing (anywhere from 140g to 180g vinyl and often in color!) comes chock full of special features like original artwork and even a companion cocktail recipe. There’s also the chance to get some free vinyl swag that the VMP team dishes out with alarming regularity. Best of all, you get access to the VMP members-only store. When the April store opens on March 15, you’ll have a chance to grab a copy of previous VMP selections from the archives – including February’s breathtaking release of Big Bill Broonzy’s Sings Folk Songs – plus additional rare or special edition vinyl. Standouts for April include a limited pressing of Explosion in the Sky’s upcoming Wilderness in shiny clear vinyl, a stellar 10 year Anniversary release of Sufjan Stevens’ Illinoise, and a seriously exciting 2LP, 180g release of Antonio Carlos Jobim’s 1970 classic Stone Flower. If you don’t know who Jobim is, he’s basically the Brazilian equivalent of George Gershwin – do not overlook this release. Even if you’re eyeing that posthumous release of You and I from Jeff Buckley or that insane Sire Years Box Set from The Replacements. Seriously, the VMP members store is packed this month. Try not to go too crazy.
Yep, the Vinyl Me, Please team have thought of pretty much everything. Do yourself a favor and sign up today. But first, let’s have a look at what’s inside this month’s box.
For the Love of Music, Please DO NOT BEND
March sees the VMP crew kicking away the last of winter’s frost with Long Way Home, a wounded electro-pop offering from Holly Lapsley Fletcher, a.k.a. Låpsley. And the 19-year-old’s debut album is an absolute stunner. Simmering between dark, mournful undertones and bubbling, pure pop playfulness, I’ve never really heard a pop album quite like Long Way Home. But then, I’d hesitate to even call it pop. Sure, it’s got a slick poppy production. And yes, Long Way Home occasionally swells into Top-40 style tropes. But as a producer, Låpsley often scales back her synthey orchestrations to bare-bones melody and primal beats. Long Way Home flirts with pop, but never quite succumbs to its greasy charms. That leaves ample room for Låpsley’s voice to take over. It does take over. And it’s hard not to get wrapped up in Låpsley’s vocal performance. It’s big and it’s small, wounded and playful, mournful and sexy. It’s everything a pop vocal performance should be – but layered with a charm, wit, and soul that most pop vocalists fail to even imagine. And she even writes lyrics to match.
Through and through, Long Way Home is a moving exploration of thoughts and moods and feelings from a young woman with emotional insight that belies her age. If I have one complaint about this album it’s that Låpsley explores a little too much. There’s a lot going on with Long Way Home stylistically and the 12 songs collected here often feel like they’re part of separate albums. Still, Long Way Home is one hell of a rewarding listen. About 3/4 of the way through my first spin, as the fist-pumping ‘Love is Blind’ played, I found my head nodding and my heart swirling – but my mind kept reminding me that I usually hate this ’80s infused, anthemic pop crap. But I couldn’t stop. It was kind of like falling in love with someone who you know isn’t right for you. It probably won’t end well. But you can’t help it. You don’t want to fight it. So I grinned and kept nodding my head.
But What’s in the Box?!
There’s a devastating thread of hurt and loss through Long Way Home that is ever at odds with the album’s youthful innocence. Clearly, Låpsley has given a lot of thought to the pain she’s suffered, the pain she’s caused, and the pain to come. But there’s a playful energy – even naivete – surrounding the pain that lends a distant ray of hope to every hard-earned truth. At 19 years of age, Låpsley possesses knowledge and talent well beyond her years. That mix of arrogant youth and introspective awareness are written all over the pensive face that paints this cover.
As always, the album comes wrapped in a mini-sleeve chock full of important information like the artist’s name, the album’s title, month of issue … and even the initials of the person who personally handled your disc. Nice packaging, AM.
Don’t forget to flip that sleeve over and scope out Long Way Home’s companion cocktail – The Dark & Stormy. You’ll need Parce Rum. And ginger beer. And a bruised-but-beating heart to enjoy this murky beverage that pairs surprisingly well with the dense emotional landscape of the album.
Digging deeper, you’ll find two hidden gems – a lovely bit of poetic rambling from VMP’s own Tyler Barstow and a kick-ass 12″x 12″ print from artist Jose Mertz. It kinda speaks for itself. But just in case, there’s a few words from Mertz on the flip side.
And all of this before you even peel the shrink-wrap off of your record. Before you rip open the plastic and start digging through that sleeve, make sure to take note of the all-important info on this sticker. Well done, VMP. Well done, indeed.
Tucked inside that gatefold, you’ll find a stunning 12″x 24″ poster that plays a slight variation on that gorgeous cover. And on the back? A heartfelt thank you from the artist herself.
Digital divas have no fear, Long Way Home comes with its very on digital download so you’ll be able to take these jams with you wherever you roam.
Don’t forget to have a gander at the snazzy dust jacket complete with full album lyrics and a collage that offers a peak inside the life and times of young Låpsley.
And what’s inside that dust jacket? It’s colored vinyl!!!!!! I gotta say – white vinyl is not my favorite, but it really makes that aqua green label pop.
And damn I hope that white disc looks as good on your deck as it does on mine.
How’s it sound? Like dancing all night at a club with a good friend that you’ve sort of been crushing on. You take the action back to your place and sit smoking cigarettes and drinking warm whiskey at the kitchen table. Music plays softly from another room. They ask for your lighter. Your hands brush in the exchange. Your eyes lock and in the moment words are spoken without words. They light their cigarette. A comfortable silence passes. You excuse yourself to use the restroom and plot your move. When you return, they’re gone. And then you hear giggling coming from your housemate’s bedroom. You sit down and light another cigarette … Kind of like that, but in a good way.
Give It a Spin, Eh?
Whether you listen to pop music or not, you’ll know what a gifted singer, songwriter, and producer Låpsley is about 90 seconds into Long Way Home. To be honest, there’s zero chance I ever would have known that without Vinyl Me, Please. And that would have been entirely my loss. With powerful vocals, killer grooves, and a vibe that shifts effortlessly from mournful to playful to somewhere in between, Long Way Home has all the makings of a new electro-pop classic. It’s an album that will sneak up on you, dig itself firmly under your skin, and deep into your heart. I’d like to personally thank the VMP team for putting this album in my mailbox this month. Can’t wait to see what they throw at us for April. Of course, you may not always love the music VMP sends your way, but it will always be an adventure … and that’s the whole point of music.